In this era dominated by the web, having your own website is very important. Whether it is to support your business or just to fuel your passion for web development, you might need to login in or transfer files remotely to servers hosting your website. For this, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the most common option. But if you want to ensure that the connection is protected, you should use Secure SHell protocol (SSH) which is encrypted to prevent any leakage of data. Over time, PuTTY has become the most popular terminal emulator that supports a variety of protocols. While PuTTY is very versatile, it is only available on Windows and that’s a problem for Mac users. So, if you’re a Mac user looking to utilize the power of SSH, here are some of the PuTTY alternatives SSH clients for macOS that you can check out.
PuTTY for Mac – Alternative SSH Clients in 2020
The Terminal app is the default CLI that comes bundled with the Mac, and is a rather powerful tool, in case you didn’t know. You can use the Terminal to SSH into a remote server, provided, obviously, that you have the valid login credentials. Here’s a short example of how you can use the Terminal to SSH into a web-server. I’m using my website’s hosting server for illustration purposes. All you will need to do, is change the server name to your server and use your login credentials.
1. Launch Terminal.
2. Use the following command to connect to your web server using SSH:
ssh <server_name> -p <port_number>
3. It is likely that Terminal shows you the following message:
The authenticity of host 'xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx' can't be established.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?
Yes to continue.
4. You will be asked to enter the password to the server or (or control panel in case of shared hosting service). The password will not be shown, even using asterisks (*), so make sure you enter it correctly. Once you have entered the login password, hit Enter, and you will be connected via SSH. You can now run shell commands on your server.
iTerm2 is a Terminal replacement for Mac with a plethora of added features that the default Terminal app doesn’t offer. Notable among the various features that iTerm2 offers are:
- Support for split-windows: Multiple independent terminals in the same tab.
- Support for Annotation: Add notes and comments to shell commands that have been run.
- Instant Playback: This feature plays back a history of everything you have done on iTerm2, in case you forgot to copy a number or some detail from older commands.
- Better search: Searching on iTerm2 highlights all the matches for the word, like Safari and Chrome do.
- Mouseless Copy: You don’t need to use the mouse to copy or paste text, anymore!
There are a lot of other features that are offered by iTerm2. You can read about them on their official website. The process to SSH into a web server using iTerm2 is exactly the same as the process in Terminal, except, iTerm2 will make your life easier inside the Terminal.
Shuttle is not so much an app as it is a shortcut menu for your SSH servers. Or at least that’s how it has been advertised. Since I don’t use SSH, I thought I wouldn’t really have a lot of use for it, but it turns out, Shuttle can be configured to run commands or scripts with just a couple of clicks.
Shuttle comes with a shuttle.json file that you can edit (using a Text editor of your choice) to add SSH servers and configurations to the shortcut menu that Shuttle adds to your menu bar, and in this json file, you can actually add an entry for any command you want to run, when the corresponding menu item is clicked. This is great stuff! Not just SSH, you can basically add commands to run custom scripts simply from the menu bar, and have them open in a new Terminal window, or a new tab in the same Terminal window.
Termius, earlier known as Serverauditor, is more than just a simple SSH client. It is a broad set of tools which facilitates a panorama of server management applications and uses common protocols such as SSH, Mosh, and Telnet. In Termius, you can save a host so that there’s no need to enter the host address, username, or password every time before interacting with the server. Further, instead of being saved on your local machine, this data is associated with your Termius account which can be accessed on any other machine – even on an Android or iOS smartphone.
Additionally, there’s a graphical SFTP interface which lets you easily create new folders, copy new files, and manage the existing ones using simple actions. Overall, Termius is a great SSH tool for new users as well for anyone administrator who works remotely and uses many different machines to manage the server.
Terminus offers both free and paid versions. The free version comes with all basic features including SSH, Telnet and Mosh, and support for port forwarding. However, if you need other features such as secure sync, SFTP, and more, you will have to buy the paid version that costs $8.33/month.
OpenSSH is a free and open source SSH protocol with a major focus on encryption and data protection. Data, including passwords, transmitted using OpenSSH are encrypted with multiple protocols to ensure full security of the contents on your server. Other than SSH, OpenSSH can also be used for file transfer using commands like SCP and SFTP. Besides ensuring secure tunneling of data, OpenSSH pays strong attention to passive ways of securing connections including support for multi-factor authentication and one-time passwords to prevent IP or DNS spoofing and avert fake routes. Lastly, OpenSSH also gives users the option to compress data before transmitting to ensure faster file transfers.
Setting up OpenSSH can be a bit overwhelming for new users and is only advised for those who have sufficient knowledge about SSH and other server management tools.
Setup Instructions here.
6. Royal TSX
Royal TSX is an extensive tool for managing multiple applications, virtual desktops, and server connections remotely, and all of this can be done simultaneouly. Using Royal TSX, you can load and use multiple well-known software like TeamViewer, VMware, Chicken, FreeRDP etc and protocols such as SFTP, SCP, VNC, SSH, Telnet – all of these and much more from a single interface. To manage each of these applications, IT admins must download small plug-ins but support for SSH is built it.
To start an SSH shell in Royal TSX on Mac, follow the following steps:
- Press Command + L and enter the server address in the following format:
Here “xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx” refers to the IP address of the server and “yy” refers to the port number.
2. Press Enter and you’ll be asked to enter the username and then the password to enter the server.
3. Once you enter the password, you can use the Royal TSX in a Terminal-like interface
Royal TSX is available for free but while using the software under the shareware model, you will be limited to 10 connections and only a single document per application.
Hyper is a gorgeous-looking command line interface (CLI) which offers uniformly appealing interface across all major operating systems for desktops such as Windows, Mac, and Linux. Being a CLI, it works exactly like Terminal and you can execute the same commands to call a server via SSH. As per the official website, Hyper is built around open web standards and is designed to prioritize speed and stability, but one cannot deny its attractive visuals and smooth animations are what make it a much more appealing PuTTY alternative than Terminal or iTerm2.
8. Chrome Secure Shell App
Developed by Google Secure Shell Developers, the Chrome Secure Shell is a good PuTTY for Mac alternative for anyone who works with the Google Chrome browser. It is an xterm-compatible terminal emulator and stand-alone ssh client for Chrome. The app uses Native-Client to connect directly to ssh servers without the need for external proxies. It also includes an SFTP command-line tool. I love that the developers have created extensive documentation that can teach you everything about SSH and how the app works. If you are looking for a free SSH client for Mac, you should give it a chance.
9. Kitty Terminal
Kitty Terminal is a fast GPU-based terminal emulator that offloads rendering to the GPU for lower system load and buttery smooth scrolling. If you are using one of the newest MacBook Pro and Air that comes with better-integrated graphics or the 16-inch MacBook Pro that has dedicated graphics support, you will find the performance smoother than some of the other PuTTY for Mac alternatives that we have mentioned on this list. And the performance is not the only thing that it offers. Kitty Terminal is not light on features either.
It supports all modern terminal features, including, graphics (images), Unicode, true-color, OpenType ligatures, mouse protocol, focus tracking, and more. You can control it using scripts, shell prompt, and SSH. It also brings extension support for enhancing its capabilities. The extensions are called Kitties and they let you add features like Unicode input, Hints, and Side-by-side diff tool, among others. Kitty is also known for its Startup sessions feature, which allows users to control the tabs, window layout, working directory, startup programs, etc. by creating a “session” file.
The app is also open-source and free to use forever. Overall, I would say that it’s a very capable free SSH client for Mac and can easily negate the absence of PuTTY on the platform.
10. Codinn Core Shell
Codinn Core Shell is a fully-featured terminal app with built-in support for OpenSSH. It lets you effectively login and manage hosts. The app is intuitive to use and hence great for productivity. And I know that users will enjoy its UI as it feels native to macOS. Codinn Core Shell is compatible with both Terminal.app and xterm. It supports ANSI 16 and 256 color palettes, along with 24-bit true color. It can also work with GnuPG agent, YubiKey, Authy, and Google Authenticator. The last feature that I want to mention is the theme support. It offers 8 built-in themes, and all of them look great. As you can see, It’s a capable alternative for PuTTY on Mac. The basic version of the app is free, and the premium version starts art $9.99/year.
We end our list with an SSH client that works on all platforms including macOS, Windows, and Linux. So, if you are someone who works across platforms and needs to use a familiar app everywhere, this is the one for you. It provides a solid Terminal emulation and has built-in features that will save you time while working with it. It supports SSH and offers features such as advanced scripting, remote access, data tunneling, and more. Features like keyword highlight for errors, tabbed sessions, support for Xterm 24-bit color (True Color), and more, make it a rounded SSH tool for anyone who wants to replace PuTTY. I think this is a perfect solution for anyone who works across operating systems. That being said, it only offers a free trial, and you will have to grab the paid version if you want to use it long-term. The pricing starts at $99.
Access Secure Shell Using These Putty for Mac Alternatives
While Mac already comes with Terminal built-in to run SSH commands, the options listed above expand the horizon of opportunities for you. If you’re managing a small website, learning how to use SSH can be vital, especially with the rising concerns about the safety of remotely-stored data. We would love to hear about your experience with SSH on a Mac, and the problems (if any), that you have had to face due to the lack of PuTTY support for macOS. Share your opinions in the comments section below.